Released May 5, 2023
Gruta is a narrative-driven platformer puzzle game where you play as a child who runs away from her family to fight the monster she thinks is causing her family trouble. The story is told through still cut scenes without any text, and the story unfolds non-verbally in each scene.
Your character needs to use her sword and shield to get past traps and monsters to reach the treasure chest at the end of each level and unlock the next segment of the story, viewed through a cut scene.
- MSRP: $4.99
- Category: 2D/3D hybrid puzzler
- No of Players: 1
- Multiplayer: n/a
- Publisher: Ratalaika Games
- Developer: Capi Capi
- Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
- Also on: PS4 & 5, Xbox One & X/S, PC/Steam
From its simple (but effective) black and white aesthetic, to its 2D on 3D graphics (which need to be seen in action to be fully appreciated), to its emotionally charged single frame story scenes, Gruta’s graphics are one of its stand out features.
Truly, its 2D on 3D effect needs to be seen to be understood, but it takes a game that otherwise might not have been very visually interesting, and creates a compelling canvas for your character to quest on.
The music and sound effects in Gruta are nowhere as stunning as its graphics, but they both fit the game well and compliment the overall action and narrative. The music, in particular, is hauntingly beautiful, in its own right, but also rather faint; truly the definition of background music.
Gruta has generally tight controls and well crafted stages, such that most deaths will definitely be your fault. The action largely consists of navigating enemies and traps in each stage to reach a treasure chest and unlock the next frame of the story.
If you want to see some gameplay you can watch my playthrough video from Gruta on Nintendo Switch:
So what about the fun? Well I don’t know if I’d call Gruta “fun” in the traditional sense (the story seems kind of dark) but it’s certainly a compelling experience that I couldn’t stop playing until I rolled credits (which took a little less than an hour).
Gruta isn’t “hard” per se, but you will find sections where you die a few times before you get the timing right, especially at the final boss. Since the completion of each level moves the story forward one more frame, I constantly found myself pressing onward to unlock the next part of the story.
Gruta is a budget priced, short indie title with retro stylized 2D/3D visuals and a rather dark story told entirely through still pictures.
The stylized visuals could use a bit more polish but are compelling nonetheless and what’s truly exciting is how this technique could be used for other games. (If another Game has used this exact technique before, I certainly haven’t seen it.)
While the idea of telling a story with no text or audio, done solely through pictures, is interesting, it’s hard to know if the developer’s narrative internet will land with each gamer. I certainly still had questions at the end, but that’s partially what made it so compelling to me.
In the end, Gruta is a must play for fans of quirky retro-styled indie games, but fans of AAA blockbuster games may not be as enthralled.
- GRAPHICS: 8
- AUDIO: 7
- GAMEPLAY: 8
- FUN: 9